Creative Director and Team

Neill Gladwin, Creative Director

Award winning performer and director (Green Room Award and International Perrier Awards), Neill’s career encompasses Olympic and Paralympic Games ceremonies, comedy, physical theatre, opera, Shakespeare, films and television. Formerly half of internationally renowned comedy duo Los Trios Ringbarkus, Neill has directed productions for many of Australia’s major subsidised theatre companies, independent theatres and commercial presenters, as well as produced and executive produced for film and television.

Message from the Creative Director

Welcome to the Victorian State Schools Spectacular 2022. To say the past years have been challenging is an understatement.

While COVID has brought adversity, it has also brought clear realisation - realisation of the uniqueness of live performance, of music, of dance and dynamic group expression. Maybe Joni Mitchell was right…

Each year we ask students to tell us what they want to sing, play or dance to in the following year. The songs that we saw coming in last year were clearly a product of a time of pandemic. We saw songs of sadness, loneliness and social cataclysm, but we also saw songs of friendship, of beauty, of caring for each other and ultimately songs of great energy and explosive expression with aspiration for new beginnings. This is the time to celebrate in this moment, recognising our ability to collaborate to make a unique event that is the VSSS.

This show is the celebration of togetherness, uniting in an energy that can only be found in sharing harmonies, the impulse of the dancers’ movement or the acrobats’ backflip

Enjoy! It is time to celebrate that uniqueness, that shine.

Creative Team

Simon K Patterson, Creative Producer

This year is Simon’s 14th Spectacular and it continues to be one of his favourite annual events to work on. He takes great pride in working with the young artists on VSSS and mentoring the up-and-coming production students. Simon is an in-demand event producer having worked on events such as White Night, the Australian Open and Formula One Australian Grand Prix. Simon originally studied Stage Management, then Event Management, and still works on a diverse range of events as a producer, production manager, tour manager, stage manager and operations director. He is excited to be back in the Arena for 2022!!

Chong Lim AM, Musical Director

Chong Lim AM is a musical director, composer, and musician. His work as a musical director includes ‘Dancing with the Stars’, Logie Awards, John Farnham and Kylie Minogue Tours and multiple Commonwealth Games. He also worked as a composer and producer for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, 2021 AFL Grand Final, 2022 Australian Open Women’s Final and the 2021 Moama Lights Show. He has produced multi-platinum albums with artists such as John Farnham and Olivia Newton John, and was nominated for the ARIA Producer of the Year in 2012 and Best Musical Director for the Helpmann Awards 2017. Chong has just completed a concert tour with Robbie Williams in Melbourne as the Assistant Musical Director.

Deon Nuku, Dance Director

Deon is a dancer, actor and choreographer. Deon’s theatre credits include West Side Story, Footloose, Fame and Saturday Night Fever to name a few, while some television credits include ‘Neighbours’, ‘X Factor’ (UKTV) and ‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’. He has performed with such artists as Macy Gray, Kylie Minogue and Ricki-Lee and featured in films such as Moulin Rouge and Scooby Doo 2. More recently Deon has choreographed for Baker Boys ‘Cool as Hell’ video and for RUEL as a movement coach on his ‘Real Thing’ video and for the NBL Melbourne Phoenix cheerleaders on their 2021 season.

Isaac Lummis, Costume Designer

Isaac’s costume design credits include The Who's Tommy, Ragtime, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Alice Through the Opera Glass, Oklahoma!, Brigadoon, Hello Dolly!, Dusty, Georgy Girl, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Promises Promises, Oliver! and Waltzing the Wilarra. His work as a maker and art finisher has featured in many productions, such as 100% Kylie, Flower Children, Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret, Singing in the Rain, The King & I and The Boy From Oz.

Nathan J.D. Scerri, Associate Musical Director

Nathan J.D. Scerri is a professional violinist and conductor. He completed a Bachelor of Music at Monash University School of Music - Conservatorium (Honours in Violin Performance). Nathan has played with many outstanding artists and conducted various ensembles throughout Australia. Nathan has participated in every Victorian State Schools Spectacular since its 1995 inception, when he was a student violinist. Nathan is passionate about music and education and enjoys working with the talented and hardworking young musicians who take part in the truly unique event that is the VSSS.

Yvette Lee, Associate Dance Director

With a career spanning two decades, Yvette is recognised for her work across multiple platforms as a choreographer, creative director and creative producer and for her contribution to television, theatre and live touring events.
Her television credits include ‘The Masked Singer, ‘Dancing with the Stars’, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and the ARIA Awards. Her theatre credits include In The Heights, Rock of Ages, The History Boys, and Dusty.

Yvette has also produced choreography and creative design for recording artists such as Tim Minchin, Guy Sebastian, Hugh Sheridan and Josh Groban.

Daniel Puckey, Music Associate - Principal Vocal

In a career spanning 15 years, Daniel has worked as a Music Director, Vocal Director, pianist, and educator across Australia and abroad. His musical theatre credits include The Wedding Singer, Muriel’s Wedding, The Book of Mormon, Wizard of Oz, The Bodyguard, We Will Rock You, The Lion King and King Kong. He has also been a creative for various workshops and concerts globally including Michael Bublé’s Call Me Irresponsible Tour. Daniel is extremely excited to be returning to Spec; the home of where his music career launched as resident accompanist back in 2008!

Jacinta Caruana, Music Associate - Vocal Ensemble

Jacinta has established a strong professional career in the music industry over the last 15 years. With a solid career performing on local and international stages, highlights include Melbourne's prestigious Hamer Hall and Rod Laver Arena. Along with being a singer/songwriter, Jacinta also works as a session vocalist for radio and TV. Having performed backing vocals for popular artists – from Havana Brown, Russell Morris and John Farnham – Jacinta is passionate about sharing her experience with the up-and-coming performers of the VSSS. Jacinta has completed a degree in education and holds an advanced diploma in Music Performance.

Susannah Gidley, Music Associate - Choir

Susannah is a professional performer, experienced vocal coach, and performing arts educator. She has worked in the music, theatre and education industries for over 15 years.

Susannah graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Music (Honours in Classical Voice) and a Bachelor of Arts. She has trained in musical theatre at conservatoriums in New York and London and has enjoyed an extensive performance career both locally and internationally.

Susannah has a passion for educating and inspiring the next generation of singers and performers. She is General Manager and Vocal Coach at Associated Studios Australia. Susannah was the VSSS Choral Director in 2016 and has recently returned from living and working in London.

Hara Papoulias, Assistant Dance Director

Hara is a dance artist and choreographer who, for the last decade, has been heavily involved in the Victorian entertainment industry. She has worked alongside music artists such as Tones and I, Havana Brown, Samsonite, and 2XU.

Her television credits include ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ for The Cosentino.

Hara has also performed at events including Melbourne Fashion Week, Falls Festival, All-Star Mile and the AFL Footy Show.

She has choreographed the Victorian Training Awards and Em Rusciano’s Rage & Rainbows Tour.

Hara is enthusiastic and grateful to continue getting amongst all areas of this thrilling industry.

Paul Jackson, Lighting Designer

Paul has designed for most of Australia's leading performing arts companies and has lectured in design at the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and the Victorian College of the Arts. His work has featured in festivals and programmes in the United States, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom. Paul was listed in The Bulletin’s Smart 100 for 2004, was the Gilbert Spottiswood Churchill Fellow for 2007 and was an Artistic Associate at Malthouse Theatre from 2007-2013. He has received a Helpmann Award, seven Green Room Awards, two Sydney Theatre Awards, four APDG awards, a Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland and an Australia Council Fellowship (Theatre).

Robert Cuddon, Lighting and Media Content Designer

Robert is one of Australia’s leading Theatre practitioners working primarily for large scale commercial productions. Robert has made a name for himself in the field of lighting and projection. He has worked extensively on major musicals, concerts, television shows, events and productions for most of the world's leading designers and companies. Robert has extensive experience as an associate designer and is an award-nominated designer in his own right.

Deb Hallam, Costume Department Manager

Deb Hallam is a VCA Graduate with years of professional experience in costume management, sourcing, design and construction across many areas of the entertainment industry. Deb has been a member of the Victorian State Schools Spectacular family since 2011 and continues to find incredible satisfaction in helping to bring the Creative Director and Costume Designer’s vision for each show to reality. Deb can’t wait to once again look out across an Arena performance of the Victorian State Schools Spectacular and see all the beaming smiles of each and every student involved…bring on VSSS22!